Meet Holston from Our First Holiday – A mini prologue



Clouds of dust billowed up as we walked through the old barn, which hadn’t been used except to gather clutter in recent years. I led William Causebay into the space with my head held high. Let him see the Halliday family dust. I hope it choked him. This was our barn, and the work generations of my family had done in this barn made me proud.

“Wow, Holston. You’ve sure got your work cut out for you to get this place in shape,” William said, but his gaze scanned the different piles of various crap the Halliday men had collected over the years.

Okay, yes. The barn was an American Pickers dream, but in the piles of farm equipment others considered useless crap held a lifetime of memories for me. There was the wheelbarrow my brother, Haden, and I used to push each other around in until the wheel fell off. And my sister, Hope’s swing from when she was young and used of force us to push her on it for hours each day.

Granted, many items were broken, and I had plans to sort through and throw away or donate most of them, but a little organization would go a long way.

I waited until William tucked away his obvious displeasure at the cluttered contents of the barn before I answered. “I’ve always enjoyed a day of hard work.”

Oceanview Orchards only opened for fall. The pumpkin patch and cider mill brought in hundreds of visitors every year, but that didn’t mean we weren’t working the farm year-round. There were pumpkins to plant and apple trees to tend. My parents used us kids as free labor since I was five. Probably younger, but my earliest memory included my father holding me on his shoulders while I picked apples from the tallest branches in the back section of our orchard.

Now that my plans included opening the orchard year-round for various holidays, the work would only increase, but I looked forward to it. I wasn’t lying about enjoying a hard day of work.

“With the money I’m offering, you could take a vacation and make sure your parents have a comfortable retirement. You’ve talked to the other landowners in town, right? I’ve offered everyone a fair price.”

William didn’t understand that there wasn’t a fair price on a lifetime of memories. Or how the farm might not be much right then, though it had potential. A lot of potential. It just needed a caring hand to help nurture the growth.

“The Halliday family has owned this farm for over two hundred years, William.” My father passed the business on to me less than six months ago, and I won’t be the one to sell it.

No, the farm would stay in my family’s hands. I only had to get my brothers and sisters on board with my plans. A few of them were more optimistic than others.

Sure, certain buildings had deteriorated over the years and parts of the farm were starting to show their age, but I had a vision. One of grandeur. We wouldn’t just restore the Halliday name to greatness, but we’d make us the apple orchard kings of Maine.

We would no longer be a small pumpkin patch and cider mill, but a year-round experience—a place people visited to experience Maine’s holidays in their glory.

“You could stay on the farm, Holston,” William said, pressing the issue. He’d already spent thirty minutes following me around outside explaining how he planned to modernize the farm, and I’d said no to his plans then. What made him think I’d change my mind after another thirty minutes of his yammering was a question for the ages. “Causebay only wants the trees and land. You can keep the homes. Do what you want with them.”

I chuckled soundlessly. “It’s not much of an experience without the land.” I didn’t plan to sell people on a refurbished bed-and-breakfast, but the chance to leave their busy city life behind and immerse themselves in a quieter holiday away from the hustle and bustle of their regular lives.

A gleam of something metal caught my eye, and I walked forward, hoping it was the can of oil I’d come to the barn in search of in the first place. William followed behind me until an unmanly squeal lifted from his lips as he slipped in a pile of an unknown substance.

“Sorry about that. This barn has served as many things over the years.”

William scowled as he wiped his shoe on each side over the layer of hay none of us could ever scrub from the floor. “You look at this farm and only see the good, but do your siblings agree?”

He hit on a sour note and I scowled. “It’s none of your business, but yes,” I lied. If I could put more work into the farm, my siblings would see the potential. All of them.

A sickly stench, which resembled motor oil and week-old horse poop, rose from the ground where William worked to scrub off his shoe. I’d told Hope a thousand times not to ride the horses through this barn, but from the evidence William wore over his hundred-dollar loafers, she had not been following the rules… again.

Hope, the youngest of the Halliday children, was the one who saw my vision the most. Sadly, she was the most starry-eyed member of the family. Few people gave her the consideration she deserved. Headstrong and always breaking the rules, she hadn’t quite earned her place at the family table.

My father, Henrik Halliday, brought me in as a full partner of the Oceanview Orchards for my thirtieth birthday. This farm and cider mill were always a part of my life and, because of my new position, they always would be. I couldn’t see life any other way.

Once you’ve watched the sun rise over an apple tree grove, you couldn’t go back to living a normal life.

“Oceanview Orchards is our family home and I plan to make sure it stays that way,” I said to William when he gave up trying to scrape the poop off his shoe.

He shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve always had a problem with that name, there’s not even—”
A piercing scream cut off William’s words mid-sentence.